Who Are Best Big Ten Teams Not In Bowl Games In 2013?
A Look At Who is Not Going Bowling In 2013 From The Big Ten
The Big Ten conference was established over 100 years ago in 1896, which makes it the oldest conference in college athletics. Its original name was of course not the Big Ten; it was the Western Conference. The conference has undergone name changes since its infancy, and who knows what the future will hold in regards to a name as a new era of expansion is rapidly approaching. Commissioner Jim Delaney currently directs the Big Ten, which actually has 12 universities with two more coming in the very near future.
As the Big Ten is the oldest conference in college football, it may be assumed that it holds many records regarding national championships, Heisman trophies and bowl game appearances. The Big Ten has been the honored recipient of many of these such awards in the past, but recent history has not been as glorious for the storied conference. And while history is something to be very proud of and to reminisce about, it is irrelevant to their current standing.
In 2013, it is very difficult to argue whether the Big Ten had a good overall season or another disappointing letdown. It might be easiest to refer to 2013 as a push. The aspirations for a BCS National Championship drifted away when Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes fell to the Michigan State Spartans in the Big Ten Championship game along with an unbeaten season for the Buckeyes. The potential for a Heisman Trophy also faded with early-season injuries to the conference’s two returning star quarterbacks (Braxton Miller and Taylor Martinez). Still, there are seven teams representing the conference in bowl games in 2013. Those teams that are not so fortunate this season can now focus on recruiting and a fast start to 2014. Here is a look at who is not going bowling and why.
The Purdue Boilermakers had the most difficult road ahead of these teams at the onset of the 2013 season. The Boilermakers are not sitting out of the postseason because of a lack of effort, but were able to muster only a single win. Head coach Darrell Hazell was well aware of his team’s shortcomings heading into the season. Hazell inherited a team coming off a 5-7 season, but none of those wins were over a team with a winning record. The Boilermakers all but gave up on their chances for a bowl game when they decided to end senior quarterback Rob Henry's reign under center and to make way for the future, giving the job to freshman Danny Etling. The Boilermakers had a strong season from underclassmen and the future looks bright in West Lafayette.
Illinois Fighting Illini
The disappointing 4-8 Illini were a couple of wins away from a bowl appearance in 2013. Had they won three more games, it may have been a different story for coach Tim Beckman’s squad. The Illini dropped an early-season heartbreaker by a mere 10 points. The contest was played in their home state, but on what would be called a neutral site at Soldier Field against a highly-regarded Washington team that went on to finish the season 8-4. The Illini also lost an overtime game on the road in Happy Valley to Penn State, and dropped their final game of the season at the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats. Their biggest disappointment was sending senior quarterback Nathan Sheelhaase out without one final game to showcase his abilities. The senior broke records for career yards, starts and completion percentage for the Illini.
The Indiana Hoosiers finished the season at 5-7, an improvement on the 4-8 record from a season ago. Had it not been for some uncertainty at the quarterback position, their season may have looked much different. A tough schedule also plagued coach Kevin Wilson during his third season in Bloomington. Nate Sudfeld can be a very good quarterback for the Hoosiers, but they also have no seniors at the position, which means a lot of competition is coming during the offseason, particularly from Tre Roberson.
The Wildcats were without a doubt the biggest letdown in the conference in 2013. With Pat Fitzgerald’s stock as high as it could possibly be as a head coach, the Wildcats suffered through a deplorably disappointing season, starting off with four straight wins before a heartbreaking loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes. The loss proved to be something from which the Wildcats could not recover until their final game of the season. One cannot help but wonder what might have been if they had been able to defeat the Buckeyes. Regardless of the heartbreaking loss, had the Wildcats won their two overtime games or somehow prevented the Hail Mary play against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, they would be a team preparing for a bowl right now.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Had the Nittany Lions defeated the University of Central Florida in an early-season show down in Happy Valley or had they been able to win the Governor’s Bell against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, they would have matched their win total of eight from a season ago. Alas, coach Bill O’Brien’s team fell to the UCF Knights by just three points and were unable to beat coach Jerry Kill’s Golden Gophers. Still, the Nittany Lions have to be very happy with their team’s performance in 2013, they should be even more excited about 2014 with the return Big Ten Freshman of the Year, quarterback Christian Hackenberg.